Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism

Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism

Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism

Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism

Synopsis

Drawing on theoretical insights from Third World women's activism, Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism develops democratic theory as a critical theory relevant to dealing with real world inequalities. Brooke Ackerly examines the methods by which real world feminist activists have criticized society, and argues that their activities show how feminist theory can move beyond its theoretical impasse toward articulating social criticism with critical teeth. Her book will be of interest to political and social theorists, and to students and scholars of women's studies, feminism, and human rights.

Excerpt

Although deliberative theorists do not always apply their work to the political questions of contemporary world or US politics, deliberative democratic theory is relevant to contemporary politics. In places like El Salvador and South Africa political societies have revised their basic institutions to be more inclusive and democratic. In the process they have realized that, given their histories of violence, coercion, and exploitative inequalities, they also need to revise their institutions of everyday politics such that a population unaccustomed to inclusive democracy can participate in it. Likewise, though without the need for a new constitution, pluralist societies like the USA are wrestling with histories of inequality and exclusion based on sex, sexuality, ethnicity, class, caste, religion, country of origin, national identity, aboriginal status, immigration status, regional geography, language, cultural practices, forms of dress, beliefs, ability, health status, family history, age, and education such that they too need to consider how democratically their basic political institutions and institutions of everyday politics function. Deliberative democratic theorists are likewise broadening their attention from theorizing about the basic political institutions of society (Bessettee1980, 1994; Sunstein 1988) to thinking about the institutions of everyday politics as well: school boards, legislative bodies, government administration, unions, trade groups, and interest groups—what Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson call “middle democracy” (1996). As they describe it, in middle democracy people respect each other and come to consensus on political decisions through free and reasoned deliberation among equal parties. Gutmann & Thompson's work is a valuable component of democratic theory because it offers an account of deliberative principles for everyday democratic life that are consistent with political liberalism in a pluralist society (Gutmann 1995). Still other deliberative democratic theorists are moving beyond existing deliberative institutions to describe new deliberative institutions . . .

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